why Cary Fukunaga left It

The 2017 horror film It was a huge hit with both audiences and critics, but there was a period where the Stephen King adaptation wasn’t such a sure thing. Director Cary Fukunaga developed It for years, only to walk away from the project due to creative differences – a development that had many horror fans concerned about how the final project might turn out.

Now, Fukunaga opens up a bit about why he quit It, chalking the creative differences up to a misunderstanding. Read on to learn more about why Cary Fukunaga left It.

In a new interview with GQ, Fukunaga reveals that the reason behind his departure from the Stephen King adaptation: the studio was worried the filmmaker would prove to be too difficult, and not a team player. At least, that’s what Fukunaga thinks. According to the filmmaker, “it was fear on their part, that they couldn’t control me” that lead to the parting of ways. Fukunaga adds that this was a misunderstanding on the studio’s part, and he would’ve been more than happy to be a “collaborator” on the project:

“I would have been a total collaborator. That was the kind of ridiculous part. It was just more a perception. I have never seen a note and been like, ‘Fuck you guys. No way.’ It’s always been a conversation.”

Fukunaga goes on to say that while he sometimes tends to “make things harder than they need to be”, he doesn’t see himself as a difficult filmmaker unwilling to compromise:

“I don’t think I’ve ever been able to make something uncompromising. Like, someone commented on Beasts, ‘Oh, how did it feel to make a movie that’s uncompromising?’ Like, uncompromising? I had to rewrite my entire third act ’cause we didn’t have the money to finish the film. We compromise all over the place.”

In the past, Fukunaga explained his approach to It as “unconventional”, saying: “[The studio] wanted archetypes and scares. I wrote the script. They wanted me to make a much more inoffensive, conventional script. But I don’t think you can do proper Stephen King and make it inoffensive.”

Andy Muschietti took over It after Fukunaga walked, and while I love how Muschietti’s film turned out, a part of me will always wonder what Fukunaga would’ve done with the material. I’ve read one of the scripts Fukunaga and Chase Palmer co-wrote, and a lot of the material in that script made it into the film as we know it today (Fukunaga and Palmer still have writing credits on the Muschietti film). Still, Fukunaga and Muschietti are much different filmmakers with much different styles, and it would’ve been interesting to see Fukunaga’s approach. Alas, we’ll never really know.

In the wake of It, Fukunaga went on to work on TNT’s The Alienist (he has a writing credit on one episode, and was originally supposed to be more heavily involved with the series, but had to depart due to delays), and the upcoming Netflix series Maniac. 

It Chapter 2, meanwhile, is currently filming in Toronto with Muschietti at the helm once again.

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